As our Region's population continues to grow, we are seeing many more condos being developed. And it seems everyone has an opinion on them, which usually falls somewhere on the spectrum from 'I never want to see another condo built again' to 'Build as many condos as possible, as tall as possible'.
No matter one's penchant or not for condos, I have heard more people calling for larger 'family-sized' condos to be developed. Most development proposals, it seems, are largely 1 and 2 bedrooms. If we want to provide real options for denser living, should we not build larger options so families can remain in condos, even if their family grows larger?
One developer in North York thinks we should. Fan Yang is the general manager for a new condo development which "addresses a major “gap” in housing in Toronto — a shortage of family-oriented units." His personal experience of living in a downtown condo, close to amenities that allowed his young family to walk everywhere influenced his desire for a development that may better accommodate families.
“We found that it’s very difficult to find a family-focused community and a three-bedroom unit in an urban area, because at that time most of the supply in the condo market was mainly one bedroom or one bedroom and a den and most of them are investor driven,” says Yang.
He continues, "We believe this will be very good for the children, very good for the parents and for the whole family, and we also believe this family-focused community will be good for the whole neighbourhood because we think this will make the community more livable, more stable and more harmonious.”
Sounds pretty great, right?
Of course, the question remains, will these units actually sell?
"Jim Ritchie, chief operating officer for major developer Tridel says one reality of the condo market is smaller units just sell faster." And, "Jane Renwick, vice-president marketing and sales for Diamond Kilmer Developments, another significant firm in the building industry, says 10 per cent of the new housing projects that do come to market are providing three-bedroom units, but from her experience that has “exceeded” demand."
But why? If we are hearing calls for these larger units, why don't they sell? It seems to come down to cost. "Larger units, even in a mid-market-priced building, are expensive simply because of their size. You run into fundamental arguments of the bigger the unit the more it costs,” she says.
So where does that leave us? "Developers say families don’t want to live in urban areas, while families say there isn’t sufficient family-focused product there, so Toronto is stuck in a vicious circle, or a “loop,” as Yang calls it." The plan for the North York development is to offer 3-bedrooms that are much smaller but more efficient in their design than what we tend to be used to in the North American market. "M2M also touts its “unique” floor plan: three-bedroom, three-bathroom units that include two master bedrooms at only 1,003 square feet – compared, Aoyuan says, to the more common 800 square foot two-bedroom units in Toronto."
It will be interesting to see what happens as these units go to market. Will there be demand for the 3 bedroom condos? Locally, I would love to see some sort of housing registry that would allow residents to understand what is available on the market currently, which units sell and which don't, along with trends on rental and housing prices.
Do you think larger 'family-sized' condos are needed in Waterloo Region?
(You can read the (pay walled) article here.)